Rotherhithe Tunnel cycle hire station
Southwark Council recently agreed an extension of the cycle hire scheme

Updated story: Lewisham Council and Transport for London officials are to discuss extending the capital’s cycle hire scheme into Deptford along the new Cycleway 4.

The latest section of the segregated cycle route opened last month along Evelyn Street, meaning riders now have a safer way to get between the Rotherhithe one-way system and Deptford Creek Bridge, close to Greenwich town centre.

Work will begin later this year on connecting the two parts of Cycleway 4 through Rotherhithe to create a continuous route from Tower Bridge.

There have long been calls in both Lewisham and Greenwich boroughs to use the cycleway as a means to bring the Santander Cycles hire scheme – which currently stops at Canada Water station – further into south-east London.

However, the two boroughs do not appear to be working together on the project. While Lewisham has taken a step forward in bringing the bikes to its borough, Greenwich has now downplayed the possibility of the scheme coming to its area.

Southwark Council recently agreed an extension as far as South Bermondsey station, next to the border with Lewisham.

Louise Krupski, Lewisham’s cabinet member for housing, regeneration and public realm, told the borough’s most recent full council meeting that talks were planned, but cautioned that funding may be an issue.

“Lewisham have engaged with TfL to seek an expansion to the Santander cycle hire scheme,” she said in a written response. “Meetings are due to take place with TfL this autumn where this issue will be further discussed. Any decision between TfL and Lewisham will be dependent on many factors including available funding.

“The cost of living crisis and strains on local authority and TfL budgets means there will need to be a careful assessment on any future funding commitments and allocations, including council priorities.”

Last year another Lewisham cabinet member, Patrick Codd, said that it was keen for the scheme to come to the borough, but voiced worries about funding.

Southwark Council is covering the cost of the new docking stations in its borough using the money that it charges developers, and it is likely Lewisham would have to do the same.

Sarah Merrill, who was then Greenwich’s transport cabinet member, said last summer that the borough had been talking to the mayor’s office about an extension. However, her successor, Averil Lekau, has played down the possibility of the scheme coming to the borough.

Asked if Greenwich had been in more talks with TfL, she told 853: “Improving the availability of and access to cycle hire and increasing bicycle ownership is a key commitment in our approach, to help more people cycle and leave their cars behind.

“We’re working with TfL and other partners to make the case for improving access to cycle hire in the borough. We continue to work with TfL but we’re aware of the significant financial constraints it is operating under.

“Dockless bike schemes require less infrastructure than the Santander cycle hire scheme and are easier to implement at much lower cost. We’re also meeting other independent hire operators to explore more opportunities to offer cycle hire in the borough, discussing how this can be managed safely and efficiently.”

Greenwich’s room to fund an extension may be more limited than other boroughs as one key source of revenue from developers – the community infrastructure levy (CIL) – is being used to pay for its contribution to the Woolwich Elizabeth Line station.

Updated at 9am with quote from Averil Lekau.

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